This post is the conclusion of what has turned into a four part series or study on "A Living Sacrifice". It's been very revelational to me and I recommend that if you haven't already read the previous three postings on the subject, please do so before reading this one or you will miss the context of how we got to this point and possibly miss the message. Thank you for your indulgence.
Fifth, is the building stage and the most dynamic. Not unlike an athlete or anyone who becomes serious about developing any area of their lives. The early stages were putting the foundation in place, learning and implementing the fundamentals. (Oh my Lord, help me to say what I’m about to say correctly.) The Old Testament was laying the foundation, preparing the way, even as John the Baptist came to prepare the way for the Messiah. The Old Covenant set the stage with the laws and the examples to reveal the character of God. Jesus came, God in the flesh, poured the concrete in the foundation and put up the frame work by instituting the church, “upon this rock I will build my church” Matt. 16:18; Isaiah 28:16, “See, I lay a stone in Zion, a tested stone, a precious cornerstone for a sure foundation…;” Ephesians 19:22, “Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and aliens, but fellow citizens with God’s people and members of Gods household, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone. In him the whole building is joined together and rises to become a holy temple in the Lord. And in him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit.”
Jesus is the head cornerstone and we are the building; this is the static example (solid, unmoving, secure). Jesus is the head and we are his body, this is the dynamic example (moving, a living organism, ever growing). The Old Testament, the Torah, the law was static, that is, unmoving. A foundation has to be dug deeply and is set in concrete to make the building thereon, secure. Hence, Jesus came not to abolish the foundation, the law, but to complete it (Matt. 5:17-18; Luke 4:16-21). In Romans chapters 9-10 we can gain further insight into what Jesus meant by “fulfillment”. In fact, Romans 10:4 states, “Christ is the end of the law so that there may be righteousness for everyone who believes.” Jesus sealed it.
At the appointed time, at the fulfillment of time, after the foundation was dug out, flattened and well prepared, Jesus came to solidify it and institute the direction or outline of the building. Any building that does not have a sure foundation will crumble; like the parable Jesus gave of the house that was built on the sand versus the one that was build on the rock. Paul also used this analogy of building in 1 Corinthians chapter 3. In verses 9-15 Paul writes: “For we are God’s fellow workers; you are God’s field, God’s building. By the grace God has given me, I laid a foundation as an expert builder, and someone else is building on it. But each one should be careful how he builds. For no one can lay any foundation other than the one already laid, which is Jesus Christ…”
This principle of laying the foundation and building on it is ancient and applicable to all areas of our lives. It’s not until the foundation is in place can we build properly. I realize I’ve seemingly diverted a bit from the original topic of us being living sacrifices and how to be acceptable and pleasing sacrifices. But bear with me, I believe it will all come together. As the law was static, unmovable and ritualistic, in a similar fashion, we as habit forming beings, once we’ve developed some of the spiritual habits or disciplines must now build on them dynamic buildings – thoughtful, unique, creative buildings. God wants to interact with each of his unique sons and daughters on a daily basis to impact the world around us. The foundation is Christ, the Word which we build into our lives daily through the study (not just the reading) of God’s word (2 Tim. 2:15). Then he, God, through his Holy Spirit wants to direct us throughout the day according to his will.
So we lay the foundation through obedience and love. As every stone is unique, so will be the way we approach or set in place the foundation of daily prayer and study of his word. Some will rise early, some a little late. Some will do so before breakfast, some after breakfast. Luke 5:16 says, “Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed.” I wasn’t able to find if it was his custom to do so in the early mornings or throughout the day. The bottom line is that if Jesus often withdrew to pray, so ought we. We are encouraged to “pray without ceasing” with all kinds of prayers. That’s the dynamic part of being in the body of Christ. Our foundation is Christ. We awake and lay ourselves as a sacrifice on the altar before the day begins and continue to do so as the day unravels by following his commands and direction through out the day.
How is your sacrifice? Is your sacrifice holy and pleasing? Is it thoughtful and reverent? As we go throughout the day are we walking in love and forgiveness towards those we work with and interact? Are we serving out of love for God or out of ambition for self? (Phil. 2:3; Col. 3:17-24)
A True Fast - A True Sacrifice:
“…Day after day they seek me out; they seem eager to know my ways, as if they were a nation that does what is right and has not forsaken the commands of its God. They ask me for decisions and seem eager for God to come near them. ‘Why have we fasted,’ they say, ‘and you have not seen it? Why have we humbled ourselves and you have not noticed?’”
“Yet on the day of your fasting, you do as you please and exploit all your workers. Your fasting ends in quarreling and strife, and striking each other with wicked fists. You cannot fast as you do today and expect your voice to be heard on high. Is this the kind of fast I have chosen, only a day for a man to humble himself? Is it only for bowing one’s head like a reed and for lying on sackcloth and ashes? Is that what you call a fast, a day acceptable to the Lord?”
“Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen: to loose the chains of injustice and untie the cords of the yoke, to set the oppressed free and break every yoke? Is it not to share your food with the hungry and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter-when you see the naked, to clothe him and not to turn away from your own flesh and blood?”
“If you do away with the yoke of oppression, with the pointing finger and malicious talk, and if you spend yourselves in behalf of the hungry and satisfy the needs of the oppressed, then your light will rise in the darkness and your night will become like the noonday. The Lord will guide you always; he will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land and will strengthen your frame.” (Isaiah 58:2-11) This Old Testament passage shows you the heart of God and the type of sacrifices that please him.
“Do not be conformed to the pattern of this world” dear friends, “but be transformed by the renewing of your mind,” through the Word of God. “Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is – his good, pleasing and perfect will.” (Romans 12:2)
Food for thought and living.
The Lord be with you. Happy Resurrection Day!